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        COVID-19: 6 Ways to Protect Your Business

        With the fast pace of COVID-19 developments, businesses are making quick adjustments to protect their staff, customers, and communities. Safeguarding the financial health of your business should also be a top priority.

        While no one can be sure how things will unfold, consider the following steps to protect your business during this time.

        1. Communicate with customers and suppliers

        As you make decisions around your hours, offerings, staffing, closing, or other changes, keep customers and partners informed. Post notices on your door or website with a simple statement about your commitment to protecting community health.

        If you are providing a modified service — gift cards, online-only purchases, takeout, delivery, not accepting re-usable customer shopping bags, or visits for a limited number of patrons — explain these changes. Additionally, emphasize the steps you’re making to maintain employee and customer safety as you continue to operate in a limited capacity. Include your preferred contact mode — phone, email, or other — for anyone who has questions.

        Changes to your business may have implications for your suppliers too. Keep them updated on your status.

        2. Support your team

        Information workers are lucky enough to be able to work from home. While this is a potential benefit, it’s not without challenges. Consider regularly-scheduled calls to answer questions from your team about plans for the company and any impending changes. While you may not be able to answer all questions definitively, you can update your team on the efforts underway to maintain company health.

        RELATED: Find More Resources About the Coronavirus

        3. Foster productivity

        Team collaboration and maintaining individual productivity are essential to keeping your business running. Help your team by providing easy ways to hold video meetings. Zoom, Skype, and GoToMeeting are a few options.

        Also offer to provide productivity-boosting tools such as standing desks, computer monitors, headphones, and speakerphones. For staffers with dependents, the solution to maintaining productivity may be working reduced hours. Consider reduced hours for reduced pay to provide people with time to manage family and personal responsibilities. Short furloughs, without pay, are also a potential solution.

        4. Focus on billing and payments

        To keep cash flowing smoothly, consider any potential impacts on payments and billing. Customer payments may slow due to the many disruptions caused by the pandemic. Contact customers about any modifications you need to make to invoice submissions, or any potential impacts to payment timing.

        On the billing front, determine if staff illness, distributed work, or other changes in your business might impact prompt billing. Make sure you adjust to avoid any slowdowns.

        5. Think about cash flow

        Ensure you have adequate financial resources to manage a potentially challenging time ahead. Review your upcoming payables and potential challenges; assess your receivables and liquidity levels; and ensure you have adequate financial resources. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is making some disaster financing available for businesses that have been impacted.

        RELATED: What History Can Teach Us About the Coronavirus and Investing

        6. Consider security

        Teams now working at home should, if possible, consider a shift to a cloud-based, document-sharing tool — Box, IDrive, and Dropbox are good options — to protect your company and customer data. If your office, store, or shop is closed, double-check that the alarm is in good working order and that all employees know how to properly set it.

        Lastly, while most of us pull together in challenging times, cybercriminals don’t. Be on the alert for email scams aimed at businesses. The Department of Homeland Security has advice for avoiding COVID-19 cybercrimes.

        Citizens Bank is ready to help

        If your business has been impacted by COVID-19 and is facing financial hardship, please reach out to us to discuss the ways we can help provide relief for you. Here’s what we’re offering Citizens Bank Business customers:

        • Payment deferrals for up to 180 days with no credit bureau impact
        • Cash Management service fee waivers for up to 90 days
        • Late fee and overdraft fee waivers
        • Small business referral facilitation for SBA Economic Injury Disaster loans

        If you’re in need of assistance, please contact us. Please note that we’re currently receiving higher than normal call volumes as we help our customers during this difficult time. To expedite service, please identify yourself using your account number. Thank you for your patience!

        Business Banking: 1-800-862-6200

        Client Services (for Cash Management service fee waivers): 1-877-550-5933

        As a Citizens Bank Business customer, you may be eligible for a loan under the Small Business Administration (SBA) new Paycheck Protection Program.

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